Nick Cave and Belle and Sebastian at Sundance Film Festival

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by Duston Todd

Saturday night at Sundance offered a tough choice for music lovers – see Nick Cave play a solo gig at the after party for the premiere of his documentary “20,000 Days on Earth” OR see Belle and Sebastian, just a block away, playing a set of their greatest hits (as well as a cover of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, their tribute to Sundance as it was written for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid“)

Being the ambitious person I am, I did a bit of both. Mostly because we had interviewed Nick and Belle singer Stuart Murdoch the day before and I was intrigued by the films they were premiering at the festival.

Nick’s movie is a fictionalized account of a day in his life.

When I heard that description it didn’t quite make sense, but he explained how directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard set up situations to create real moments – including two days of Nick talking to a psychoanalyst, showing him old photos to stir memories and putting him in a car with mystery guests that included former bandmates and Kylie Minogue.

It was the first interview the two filmmakers and the musician had done together and they collectively described the doc as audacious, ambiguous, and mysterious. The title comes from a discarded lyric they found in his notebooks.

by Duston Todd
by Duston Todd (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Nick said the process of making the film “peeled away layers that haven’t really been peeled away ever” and that he went into it with “trepidation and terror”, but found it rewarding in the end.

In fact, he left us with an incredible philosophy for living life, saying that “to do anything worthwhile, you have to step into a place you don’t understand or don’t know” and that discomfort and risk “keep things interesting”.

Listen to the interview below.

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Stuart Murdoch by Duston Todd (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Stuart Murdoch, on the other hand, made a musical called “God Help the Girl”.

Fans of his might recall he put out an album of the same name a few years back. This is his directorial debut and he outed himself as a cinephile in a chat with DJ Anne Litt, saying a film “is a place for you to see something you never would have imagined.”

In this film, he takes you straight into the heart of Glasgow and its thriving music scene. It revolves around an 18-year-old girl with three key themes: sickness, spirituality and music.

Much of the film was shot in a one mile radius of his house because he had a low budget and had to move quickly.

Listen to the interview below:

He also had great news for B&S fans, telling us that the band got together as soon as he finished an edit on the film and they’re recording a new album that we can hope to hear in Autumn.

Side note: I had a brilliant unexpected music moment at Sundance when I walked into a soundcheck at ASCAP’s Music Café only to hear a voice that stopped me in my tracks. Turns out it was Olly Alexander, one of the young stars of “God Help the Girl”. He was playing solo (though he has a band called “Years and Years”) and literally brought me to tears with his singing. Exhaustion might have had something to do with my delicate emotional state, but I’d like to give him credit as everyone in the room was equally impressed.